IAN MCCONNELL

Commerce's Ian McConnell goes up for a layup during the first half of the Tigers' 59-55 loss Monday (Feb. 3) in the first round of the Region 8-A tournament. McConnell scored 21 points. The loss ended the Tigers' season with a 12-15 record. 

Early in the fourth quarter of the Commerce Tigers' Monday night (Feb. 3) matchup vs. Athens Academy, the Tigers' season looked like it was going to keep going in the Region 8-A tournament. 

But, by the final buzzer, the Spartans' 22 fourth-quarter points overwhelmed Commerce, ending the season with a 59-55 loss. The Tigers finished the season 12-15, 10 wins better than last season. 

"I thought we battled, I thought we played hard," head coach Russ Gregg said after the loss. "Proud of the effort. I felt like we had to do a really good job on the glass, and I thought we did a great job in the first half. I thought in the second half we let our guard down, a little bit. We got up nine (28-19, 32-23), and I think, we got a little comfortable."

Commerce totaled 35 rebounds for the game. 

"We got in a little bit of foul trouble, and I thought that hurt us," Gregg added, "but proud of these guys, proud of the effort. We won 10 more games than we did last year. We had two seniors and just looking forward to continuing to grow."

Ian McConnell led the way for Commerce, posting a double-double (21 points, 14 rebounds). Shawn Cunningham added 13 points and six rebounds. Matthew Simpson had nine points. 

Commerce shot 38 percent from the field. At the free-throw line, the Tigers were 3-of-8. 

The Spartans led 9-6 after the first quarter. By halftime, the Tigers had stormed back, scoring 20 second-quarter points to lead at intermission 26-19.

Commerce led 39-37 entering the fourth quarter. After losing the lead, the Tigers tied and took the lead back on three different occasions. The Spartans, though, took the lead for good, building a 51-46 advantage. 

Commerce cut the deficit to as little as one point, 54-53, with 1:56 left in the game. Then, down 58-55, the Tigers missed four 3-point opportunities in the closing seconds. An Athens Academy rebound with 2.3 seconds left, and one made free throw, ended the Tigers' hopes. 

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